Most of the time, exhibitions attract the public with as yet unknown works by world-famous artists.
“The Body Electric: Erwin Osen - Egon Schiele” at the Vienna Museum Leopold is exactly the opposite.
Here, from a group of recently discovered drawings by the painter, set designer and self-expression artist Erwin Dominik Osen (who only died in 1970, survived his friend by fifty-two years), the artist, set designer and self-expression artist, who was rather unknown outside of Austria, inferred that Schiele was the artist of unconditional self-exposure - with astonishing gain in knowledge.
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Because although the nine sheets by Erwin Osen newly acquired by the museum and Schiele's newly assigned works only fill two halls, the contacts between the two and the network around them become much clearer. The two halls now offer the prelude to the permanent exhibition “Vienna around 1900” and take a look at a clinical modernity, which is likely to be decisive for the opening of the body and the eversion of the inner workings in Viennese Expressionism. While the Freudian exploration of the soul of this time was strictly separated from everything physical, it is now evident that art was closely interwoven with the culture of clinical medicine in two respects: To a certain extent, the Viennese doctors around 1910 were often collectors, clients and inspirers of art all in one .
Next to Schiele's house in Vienna was the practice of a radiologist, where he came into contact with x-rays at an early age, which, according to the convincing opinion of the show, must have shaped his spidery fingers, as if they were x-rayed and made visible. With the permission of the gynecologist Erwin von Graff, Schiele painted previously unknown pictures of pregnant women and newborns in the Women's Clinic II in Vienna. And now the pictures of Osen, auctioned in Scotland, with patients portrayed in a garrison clinic like a squint: They were commissioned by the doctor Stefan Jellinek, an electropathologist who worked in Vienna until he emigrated to England in 1939.whose research focus was on the medical applications of healing electricity (hence the exhibition title based on Walt Whitman's poem "I Sing the Body Electric").
During the First World War, Jellinek headed the neurology center in Garrison Hospital II, where, among other things, he used electrotherapeutic measures for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders in soldiers. In the spring of 1915 Osen himself was a patient of this facility because of "weak nerves". Some of the drawings were made during his stationary stays, especially the naked fellow patient entitled “Lustknabe” in front of three colorful pillows, who crossed his legs and made his sex androgynous with a gold chain around his neck, blush on his cheeks and a slightly open mouth deviant looks at the viewer and plays with his nipples.Keywords: